Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I use Synergy?
We are a unique rehabilitation centre, offering both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for a complete rehabilitation experience for every patient. Jo and Matt’s combined experience, including a long time spent in a specialist referral centre, gives the ideal balance when it comes to making a full recovery from either injury or surgery.
Our physiotherapist, Matt, is a member of the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists (NAVP). The NAVP is widely recognised in the industry for its pivotal role in developing the very first direct entry routes for veterinary physiotherapy training at both postgraduate and also now undergraduate level. Matt is also an accredited clinical educator for the NAVP, helping with the training of students, and has achieved the Blue Paw Award in arthritis management through the Veterinary Osteoarthritis Alliance (VOA).
Our hydrotherapist, Jo, is a member (pending) of the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA). CHA members hold Nationally Accredited Qualifications in Small Animal Hydrotherapy. Our centre is inspected by a CHA representative to ensure that we meet the highest standards that your pet deserves. The CHA is the only inspection controlled regulating small animal hydrotherapy association in the industry. Jo is soon to resume as a practical satellite training centre for Hawksmoor Training Centre, assessing and training students from across the UK.
What happens during an appointment?
A physiotherapy examination will look at stance, conformation and posture, as well as how the animal moves, and finally palpating or feeling the soft tissues and joints of the body to locate the areas that require intervention. Your animal may also be asked to perform functional tasks such as stepping over obstacles or jumping, depending on the reason for the session. After assessment your animal will be treated with a selection of therapies that can include manual therapies, thermal therapies (heat and ice packs), electrotherapies, and therapeutic exercise.
A hydrotherapy session involves a physical assessment, Including looking at how the animal moves, as well as a general health exam, assessing their pulse rate, breathing rate, and the colour of their mucous membranes (gums). Once this has been completed, your animal will be put into a harness or buoyancy jacket depending on whether they are going in the treadmill or pool, and with careful consideration of what level of fitness they currently have. During the session your animal will have periods of working with the water with rest breaks interspersed between those periods, this is the most effective way to achieve improvements with this type of therapy, gradually improving your animal’s cardio and physical fitness.
How many sessions will it take for my pet to be better?
This is always a difficult question to answer but we understand it’s always in the back of everyone’s mind. It can vary depending on the patient and how they respond to the treatment, and unfortunately, not every treatment method works for every animal. Additionally, especially with regards to physiotherapy, the home exercise plan is an important component for us to see results. We hope to see an improvement in around 3-4 sessions but if we don’t, this isn’t necessarily a failing of the therapy, we just need to adapt our approach (there could also be a need for additional medication if the patient is particularly painful). Generally, it can take around 6-10 sessions (along with the home exercise plan) to create long lasting results and allow us to confidently move your pet onto a maintenance plan or discharge them from our service but do be aware this can vary from patient to patient.
Why should it take more than one or two sessions?
If you have ever had an injury or surgery yourself, you will know it does take more than one session or one exercise to get you back feeling and moving better. This applies to dogs and cats just as much as it does for us.
How will my pet feel after a session?
They may be tired and sleepy after either therapy as it will be a lot of mental and physical stimulation. After physiotherapy they may feel relaxed and more perky but if this is the first time they have been manipulated, it can cause a rare few patients to be a little more sore the next day but this is generally short lived. Hydrotherapy may in some cases also cause some stiffness or soreness as it is a form of physical exercise, but this again is short lived and, like with physiotherapy, rarely lasts more than 48 hours. Careful consideration is given for both therapies before commencement to avoid this where possible. If your pet does exhibit any stiffness or soreness the day after, this does not mean they are not ready for therapy. It can simply mean their body is adapting to the new form of exercise/moving or it could mean they have a low tolerance of change, so it’s important that you tell us when this happens so that we can adapt our approach and treatment.
How do I get an appointment?
Legally, we cannot see your pet without a qualified vet referring them to us. Therefore, if you ask your vet to fill in our referral form and send through a full history for your pet to our email, we will contact you directly to book an appointment. Your vet may want to assess your pet first if it has been a while since they last saw them.
My vet isn’t sure if physio or hydro would be best for my pet, what should I do?
If you get your vet to send us a referral form and history, we can read through this information and decide ourselves which therapy would be best and let you know. In a lot of cases, both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are actually indicated but we might start with one and add in the other further down the line.
My pet has been recommended hydrotherapy, will they go in the pool or the treadmill?
Water therapy in general is a very good way to re-introduce exercise into your pet’s life again when wanting to improve mobility and quality of life when day to day activities become just too uncomfortable or when recovering from injury. The decision about which method is used for a particular case is usually made by our qualified hydrotherapists. However, there are many reasons why we may recommend one over the other.
The pool is ideal for dogs and cats which may have conditions which affect their ability to move freely and comfortably. It is a non-weight exercise which is aided by the use of flotation jackets to aid support and buoyancy. Arthritis is one that many people associate with old age but sadly it can affect animals of all ages. The knock-on effects of arthritic type conditions are that muscles start to weaken and become tight not only around affected areas of the body but in general as daily exercise is reduced in an attempt to keep your pet comfortable. The pool also has the added benefits of being able to improve cardio-vascular fitness over a period of time.
The treadmill is a weight bearing form of hydrotherapy and accurately simulates walking on land. However, the use of water within the treadmill provides buoyancy and support just like the pool allowing the limbs to move with less force going through them. This is a crucial component when recovering from surgeries or unstable injuries. The treadmill does also has the added benefits of being able to build on muscle strength and tone.
I’m concerned I won’t be able to remember everything I get told to do at home, is there anything I can take home with me afterwards?
We completely understand that it can be overwhelming to have so much new information thrown at you at once, especially if this is the first time having physiotherapy or hydrotherapy for a pet of yours. We use an online exercise database to formulate our physiotherapy exercise plans and so you will get a digital copy of this each time it is updated which you can print out or log on to the website for videos of the exercises. We also have several blogs that go into detail about things like home management changes for arthritic dogs that can be accessed from our website. You and your vet will also receive reports intermittently throughout the rehabilitation process that will detail the session we had, what we found, what we did, and what improvements we’ve seen.
If you still feel that you have questions after a session, do not hesitate to get in touch with us directly, we’re always happy to help you out in between sessions when we can.
Can I exercise my dog after a session?
We recommend with both therapies, that you give your dog a shorter walk than you would usually after having a session but you can return to normal exercise the next day, provided you don’t notice any increase in stiffness or lameness.
I’ve been recommended physiotherapy but my dog doesn’t travel well, what can I do?
We do have a limited number of house calls available but there may be an additional travel charge applied depending on where you live. Contact us directly if you would like to discuss a house call.
What happens after my pet is discharged?
Once we discharge your animal, we don’t just disappear, we are still on the end of a phone or email to provide assistance should you need it. You are even welcome to come back in for a check up, although if this ends up being 6 months from your last visit, we will need an updated history from your vets.
In some cases, we don’t necessarily have to completely discharge your pet. For long lasting or chronic conditions, whether that be arthritis or a neurological problem, we are able to offer maintenance therapy every 1-2 months to give your pet a check over, make sure they’re still doing well and not deteriorating. If they do go backwards slightly, we are able to make the necessary adjustments to get them back to where they were or at the very least maintain them at their new normal. The choice to go onto a maintenance plan is entirely up to you as the owner as we appreciate it is a long-term commitment both financially and for your time, however, it does benefit many animals. We aim to make sure we have provided you with all the tools and knowledge to be able to manage your own pet at home without us, but we are always available to provide long-term support if you would like it.